Counseling Center screens mental health

Ky Watnick
HEAD COPY EDITOR

The Counseling Center held their fourth annual Depression Screening Wednesday, Oct. 10, on World Mental Health Day. This event is held every Fall semester and usually falls during Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from Oct 7, 2018 – Oct 13, 2018. Students were encouraged to stop by for the mental illness screening, which only took about 15 – 20 minutes. Each student was given a pen and a questionnaire with two sides of yes or no questions to answer. The questions varied from ‘Have you had moments where you felt extremely happy?’ to ‘Have you ever thought of committing suicide?’ Once finished, students turned their questionnaires in and waited to meet with a counselor. 

The counselors took a moment to look over the answers before speaking with students, giving them information about the Counseling Center and possible outlets such as support groups in the area. “[The screening] is a good opportunity,”  said Licensed Psychologist and Assistant Director Stephanie Smolinski, “to provide education about mental health concerns, raise awareness, and decrease stigma, and then provide any resources or referrals.”

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Though this screening event has only been a part of Whittier College  for the last four years, National Depression Screening Day has been around since 1990. “[Mental Health America] realized that there is a lot of different screenings for physical problems,” said Smolinski, “but there [are not] comparable things for mental health issues, and so they decided it would be a really great idea to just have people to be able to stop in and take a free, anonymous screener much in the same way.” Whittier College has supported this concept, and they plan to keep the Depression Screening Day as an annual event.

This year, the Counseling Center held their screening event from 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the lower quad. “We had quite a few students who came in for in-person screenings, but also we had an even larger number of students who [used] the online url to take it themselves,” said Smolinski. Since the screenings are anonymous, there is no guarantee that students in need of counseling will follow through. 

“Based on the screenings, there were some students who then wanted to make appointments,” said Smolinski. “We are also really pushing our Let’s Talk open consultation model.” Let’s Talk is a service from the Counseling Center where students can have free walk-in consultations that can lead to a more steady counseling relationship. These events are held in the GAC from 2 – 3 p.m. on Mondays in Room 230, the Career Center from 2 – 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Thursdays, and in Johnson 213 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Fridays.  

If you would rather take a screening in private first, Mental Health America has a page on their website where you can learn more about the history of National Depression Screening Day and take an online screening test. The test takes less than five minutes and immediately gives you feedback. It can be found at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/national-depression-screening-day.  If you are suffering or think you are suffering from a mental illness, know that you are not alone. Contact the Counseling Center at 562.907.4239 or counselingcenter@whittier.edu or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.800.273.8255 if you need help.